Fire service calls have declined in Flint, Mich., in part because of a citywide effort to demolish abandoned houses, city officials said.
The latest report by Emergency Manager Darnell Earley found a 58 percent decline in fire-related calls. The report credited the increased demolition of blighted properties, a door-to-door fire education campaign and 911 call-screening techniques that allow fire departments to make better use of equipment and personnel.
But Mark Kovach, president of the Flint Fire Firefighters Union, told The Flint Journal he is unsure how much impact the demolitions have had. He said there hasn’t been a significant decrease in the number of fires the department has responded to compared to the first six months of 2013.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, whose district includes Flint, said an abandoned house is 10 times more likely to catch fire. He advocated for $20 million in Hardest Hit Funds for Genesee County last year. Some of the money was allocated toward the demolition of abandoned houses in Flint, as part of the county’s plan to demolish more than 1,500 residential properties.
“It’s pretty simple logic,” Kildee said. “A house that is not there does not burn down.”
Kildee and other city leaders will continue to push for federal funding to remove blighted commercial properties from the area.
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